Stay safe in the sun

With the Bay Cluster Network

Even though our summer may look slightly different this year with more people planning staycations, sunburn can still happen in the U.K. Sunburn can significantly increase your risk of skin cancer. Getting the balance of getting your vitamin D from the sunlight and protecting your skin this summer is essential. 

More than 100,000 new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed every year in the U.K. alone. It is predicted that 9 out of 10 cases of skin cancer could be prevented by staying safe in the sun.

  • Wearing sunscreen alone isn’t enough and combining sunscreen with other forms of protection is essential.
  • The sun is at its strongest between the hours of 11am and 3pm so seeking shade between these hours is recommended.
  • Ensuring you and your family wear suitable clothing is recommended and using at least a factor 30.

It is a misnomer that a golden glow is a sign of good health, when in fact any change in skin colour is a sign of damage. Many people often use after sun to soothe the skin, but it should be noted that the aftersun does not undo the damage by the sun. Mild sunburn is usually dealt with by our own body but we should try avoiding sunburn as much as possible.

Using sunblock 

Many people often get sunblock for the more vulnerable areas including the tops of our ears or nose but the name is misleading. There is no such thing as a total block as no cream can completely prevent all UV rays.

The sunblock does provide a very good level of protection when used according to directions. It works by blocking UVB rays by acting as a physical barrier. Normal suncream works by absorbing UVA rays but sunblocks are cosmetic-ally less appealing as they often create a chalky layer of cream on the skin. It should be noted sunblock are often better tolerated on children and those with sensitive skin

Using sunscreen from the back of the cupboard 

Many people often go to the back of the cup-board to get last year’s sunscreen out but using an out of date sunscreen on your skin can mean that you’re not fully protected. It is important that any sunscreen should be discarded if it has been open for a year or by its expiry date. Furthermore, suncream that is left in the heat may not be as protective as it once was.

What factor sunscreen, sun protection factor (SPF), should you buy?

  • It is advised that minimum SPF 30 to protect against UVB and should be at least four-star UVA protection.
  • It is important to make sure that your suncream is not past its expiry date. Always check the shelf life before using it.

What does the SPF and star rating mean?

  • The SPF, sun protection factor, is a way of measuring the amount of protection of ultraviolet B (UVB) radiation.
  • SPFs scale from 2-50+ dependent on the amount of protection they offer, with 2 being the lowest and 50+ offering the most protection from UVB.
  • The star rating’s measures the amount of ultraviolet A radiation (UVA) protection. The higher the rating the better the protection.
  • When the letters “UVA” inside a circle is seen this signifies European marking meaning that UVA protection is at least a third of the SPF value and thus meets European recommendations.

Dealing with sunburn

  • Sponging sore skin with cool water and applying an after sun or calamine lotion is advised. Painkillers such as paracetamol can ease the pain caused by sunburn.
  • You should seek medical help if you feel unwell or the skin blisters and it is important to stay out of the sun until all signs of redness have gone.

Stay safe and enjoy the sun…!

Reem El-Sharkawi 



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